Snake Country – Getting to know the neighbours

Getting to know the neighbours
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

I don’t wish to bring on the ‘Commentator’s curse’ – that phenomenon where the radio commentator tells the listeners how beautifully the batsman’s doing, only for him to get bowled out the next ball – but I’ll just mention, that thus far, we seem to be having a reasonably mild winter.
Could this be further confirmation of the climate change that we keep hearing so much about? Most humans can adapt fairly smoothly to climatic nuances, with the addition or removal of some clothing or the flick of a heater/aircon switch, yet for our limbless friends, and anything else in fact that is dependent upon seasonal peaks and troughs, it’s not that easy. Yes, snakes can slither down a hole to get out of the heat, or bask on a sunlit rock to warm up, but, as with all living creatures, food is their driver, and for their wellbeing to continue, food availability would have to remain in synch.
To illustrate the almost general lack of understanding in this small matter, I feel I must tell you that I was privileged to have been invited to share my 5 bob’s worth with visitors to a recent Open Indigenous Garden weekend, and based on the type of questions I was getting about snakes and what they do, I got the impression that a large percentage of our population (no colour code implied), seems to be sublimely oblivious of the fact that snakes actually eat. The perception is that all they do is bite people and kill them, swallowing the occasional victim. It would seem that snakes self-cater, presumably living off their body mass for a few years until they miraculously disappear in a puff of nothing. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see too many of them?

A visitor to your spot, doing some bargain-lizard hunting

A visitor to your spot, doing some bargain-lizard hunting

Unfortunately this is not the case, and I hope I didn’t put too many wannabe horticulturalists off their plans to start a truly indigenous garden, when I told them the truth. Veteran readers will know what I mean; I spoke about the birds and lizards that would visit the garden, drawn there by the bouquet wonderful flowers that in turn, was a magnet for plant-eating insects, along with the butterflies that would lay their eggs on the indigenous plants – you know, the eggs that produce caterpillars that eat the leaves on the indigenous plants – and the furry little rodents (named from rodere – to gnaw) that would come in from the harsh bush, to partake of the bounty made available by the newly established indigenous garden.
I started to get funny looks, and children began to run in all directions – waving their arms and screaming as they ran – when I mentioned in passing, that by virtue of the fayre on offer, the following snakes would undoubtedly be visiting this botanical Garden of Eden; house snakes, bush snakes, puff adders, vine snakes, boomslang and slug eaters to name a few.

Sorry, got a bit carried away there – just joking about the kids.

© pat mckrill. 2016
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958